Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why it pays to garage sale

A couple of weeks ago the garage sale bug hit me so I looked up a few local sales, packed the kids into the car and headed out. First couple stops weren't anything much but then I hit the mother lode! First off, if I had been in the market for toys (which I am definitely not!), these ladies had some quality toys at nice prices. Then I ventured into the garage and saw racks and stacks of women's clothing. I noticed that the prices were great ($1-$2 per item), the clothes were name brands (not that I have to wear name brands but they usually are a bit better quality), and they looked to be my size!

The best deals were these coats. I paid $3-$5 for each coat, Gap, Old Navy, Merona, and New York & Co. brands. Once I got them home, I thought maybe it was a bit excessive, but they all fit great and are styles I love, plus I paid less for these coats then I would have paid for one brand new coat. I hope to get years of use out of them. I just finally got rid of the winter coat I got my last year of high school (10 years ago), so I have a good track record.

Here are some other good deals, including a few items for Andrew. I bought a brand new pair of Old Navy jean capris for 3 bucks. Also a black puffy vest which I will wear a ton, a brand new gray button down blouse, plus some t-shirts and shirts. Some did not fit how I had hoped but I will be keeping enough to make the expense worthwhile.

Lessons learned from rummaging:
1. I will not drive way out of my way to go to a garage sale. I have gotten burned way too many times by supposedly great garage sales turning out to be nothing much.
2. I never thought I would be able to find jeans for me at a garage sale but if you know your size in popular brands, it is definitely a possibility.
3. Garage sales are cheaper than Goodwill and can yield higher quality clothing.
4. Don't be afraid to ask for lower prices. (I didn't in this case, I think because I was too excited! But I have done it before and usually the seller doesn't bat an eye at lowering the price.)
5. Just because its cute and cheap doesn't mean you should buy it. I gather stuff for the boys at garage sales but I've become much picker because I ended up with too much stuff. If its more than $1, I usually bypass it unless for example, it is a pair of jeans in good condition. I recently went through all the boys clothes and purged alot from the younger boys because they just had way too much stuff! Aaron still has about 25 outfits for this summer that I just can't get rid of yet because they're too cute. :-)
6. Don't try to take your kids. If its cool enough out, I bring the boys some snacks and books and leave them in the van. Then I run to take a quick peek at the sale.

Hope this is helpful!

Homemade Fingerpaint!

Just used this recipe to make fingerpaint! My colors didn't all turn out exactly right, but the boys won't mind. The light purple on the right was supposed to be "dusty rose."
Tomorrow the boys and I are going to make some paintings from this book that I got at a garage sale for 50 cents. Each animal print has a short explanation about the animal plus a simple science experiment to go with it. I think the boys will love it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Yogurt (in the crockpot!)

Here's my yogurt recipe. It is by no means perfect, but its a good jumping off point. I've made yogurt 3x and each time I make it I tweak something. From what I've read, it takes some practice to get your yogurt to where you want it in terms of consistency and taste. I've gathered my recipe from various sources. One of the best is here (crockpot version). There are lots of other recipes that call for boiling the milk on the stove to some exact temperature, etc, etc. Here's one here. I found the crockpot way really easy for me and only one pot to clean! So here's what I do:

Homemade Vanilla Yogurt

1. Pour 8 cups of milk into crockpot and mix in 1/2 cup of sugar and 1+ tablespoons of vanilla. (I've used whole and skim and I don't see a difference in consistency so I'm sticking with skim.) Cook on low for two and a half hours. (Can add 1-2 packets of unflavored gelatin or dry milk to help thicken yogurt.)
2. Turn crockpot off and let the yogurt cool for 3 hours. (I think this is where I have problems. You have to cool the milk to 105-110 F before adding the starter yogurt. I'm not sure I'm getting it cool enough. I may try the next batch with a thermometer.) Let me stress that this is an essential step. I accidently skipped it once and ended up with sour smelling milk the next morning, not yogurt. :-)
3. Remove 2 cups of warm milk from the crockpot and whisk 1/2 cup of starter yogurt in. (I use Dannon All Natural.) Dump mixture into the crockpot and stir.
4. Cover crockpot and wrap with a large beach towel and let it sit for 8-12 hours. You will have yogurt after that!
5. If the yogurt is too runny for you, here's what I did. I lined a colander with coffee filters and placed it over a large bowl and dumped the yogurt into the colander. I let it sit in the fridge for about 12 hours and came back to thick yogurt. (I'm told its like Greek yogurt consistency.) I'm going to cut the draining time next time because it was a little too thick. By the way, the stuff you drain out is called whey and I guess its good for you. Some people add it to smoothies, etc.
You can also add fruit to your yogurt to make different flavors. Just be aware that it will make the yogurt thinner.

A 32 oz container of yogurt is $2.99. A half gallon of milk will cost you about $1.50. You will use 1/8 of the yogurt so about 40 cents worth. Your cost to make about 60 oz of yogurt is less than $2. Less if you get the yogurt and milk on sale. So its definitely a money saver if your family likes yogurt.

Edit: Right after I wrote this I went to strain the rest of my yogurt, but it was already thick! I had added two packets of unflavored gelatin with the milk in step 1 and it must have thickened more as it cooled in the fridge. I had excluded this because previously I had used 1 packet of gelatin and it hadn't worked, but I guess 2 packets did the trick! I plan on trying to thicken my next batches of yogurt with dry milk because I think this will be cheaper than gelatin in the long run.


I find it disturbing that the city I live in had a Slutwalk this past weekend.
(By the way, read the comments under the article. No one thought it was a good idea. One commentator even said that by using the name "Slutwalk", this group actually did more damage to victims by making them feel like sluts. Maybe someone should explain to them that "slut" is a derogatory term.)

I find it disturbing that a woman would bring her baby girl to this so called empowerment event wearing this onesie. (Silly me, I thought part of a daddy's job was to protect his little girl. What was I thinking?)

I find it disturbing that 150 people thought this was actually a good idea. A man's actions are his own, but that doesn't give women license to expose/accentuate whatever body parts they want to.

And finally, I find it disturbing (and heartbreaking) that anyone with a conservative Christian background would participate in something like this. Parents, we have no idea the damage done to our children by institutions of so-called higher learning. It is so, so important that we ground our children in truth while they are young so that they can withstand the pressure to cave to popular belief when they are on their own (Prov 22:6).

For more on evangelical feminism, check here.

What's Cookin'

Mon~Steak fajitas, spanish rice (from the freezer), salad
Tues~Beef stew, bread
Wed~Taco salad, watermelon
Thurs~Spaghetti, green beans
Fri~Asian barbecue chicken (this is so delicious!), sesame noodles, broccoli
Sat~Hamburgers, chips, veggies

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Newfound Respect

I was pretty proud of myself this morning. I had a list of things to cook/bake in the kitchen and got started right away. A delicious strawberry pie, homemade cinnamon rolls, french bread, meatballs, potato salad and these cookies. I whipped out the cookie dough, baked my potatoes and had the cinnamon roll dough and french bread dough rising in no time. Took a break and ran around the corner to buy some fresh strawberries for my pie. Came home and rolled out the crust (from a box) and got that started. Baked cookies and bread, rolled out cinnamon rolls. Now I was getting tired. And then I started thinking, what if I tried to do this 125 years ago? How in the world did those women do it? They picked their own strawberries, made their own pie crust, didn't have the luxury of their husband handling the kids since he was busy with his own work, washed all the dishes by hand and cooked with a wood-burning stove. Plus they needed to make a hot meal for their families at noon, not just throwing sandwiches on the table. And all the other chores that needed to be done. Now I'm really tired!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's Cookin'

Mon~My sis-in-law brought pizza over while we planned our vacation to the great metropolis of Detroit. Looking forward to it!
Tues~sandwiches and then a grad openhouse
Wed~Spicy pork chops, roasted potatoes, broccoli
Thurs~Asian Barbecue Chicken, rice, carrots, beans
Fri~Barbecue at friends-I'm making Roasted red potato salad (minus the rosemary) and Strawberry Dessert
Sat~Grilled cheese, salad
Sun~Meatball soup, bread

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Southern Reflections

Just found this list. Meant to post it when I got back from South Carolina in March.

Things I learned in SC:

1. A Cracker Barrel is never more than a stone's throw away. In fact, there are a lot more Cracker Barrels than McDonalds. Shocking! And no, I did not try their grits. Don't think I'm a grits person.

2. Grand Rapids, or at least the western side of Michigan, needs a
Chick-Fil-A. ASAP.

3. I may be a southerner at heart. I love hearing someone say ya'll and I'm a sucker for sweet tea.

4. Chris would love it if I made biscuits with sausage gravy for breakfast every day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's Cookin'

I'm baack!!
Between Memorial Day and camping week, not much menu planning was done. So back at it!

Tues~Spaghetti, green beans
Wed~Steak, mashed potatoes, carrots
Thurs~Grilled chicken, rice, corn
Fri~Hamburgers, salad
Sat~Pizza, carrot sticks
Sun~Grilled chicken salad, rolls